The Good Earth Essay Wang Lung And Olan

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Wang Lung (the Good Earth) Character Analysis

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Ms. Davis Magnet World Literature 14 November Character Analysis The protagonist of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, Wang Lung, is a proud, and ambitious family man who begins life in poverty, living in rural, 19th century China. He is sent to be married by his father when the book starts. Through the first half of the book, his ambition becomes more and more apparent, and he becomes increasingly envious of the Hwang family’s’ success and wealthy lifestyle. He becomes driven to bring himself, and his family out of poverty.

In the end, his love of the land helps him to maintain his character, and moral values. ‘“Now will I not eat this meat! ” cried Wang Lung angrily. “We will eat meat that we can buy or beg, but not that which we steal. Beggars we may be but thieves we are not. ”’ In this quote, Wang Lung is reacting to the stolen meat that O-lan cooks for the family while they are in the south. He says that he would rather starve than eat something stolen. This quote shows how proud Wang Lung is.

It shows how even though he is essentially starving, he would rather be an honest man and eat something that he earned, or not eat at all. Another example of Wang Lung’s pride and proud ness is when his uncle approaches him for money a he is working on his fields. “It touched his pride that this matter might indeed be called out before the village. ” This quote alone pretty much sums up Wang Lung’s pride. Here, the quote implies that he [Wang Lung] is willing to do anything to keep his reputation good and healthy, including giving his hard earned money to his lazy uncle.

When Wang Lung first enters the Great House of Hwang, he is amazed at how wasteful the people seem to be, and at how lavishly they live. A year after he has married O-lan, and she has given birth to their first son, he, O-lan, and the baby boy go back to the great house as requested by the Old Mistress, and again he sees how expensively the people live, and how they carelessly spend money. When he gain knowledge from O-lan that the great house is going poor and must sell some of their land, he immediately announces to O-lan that he will buy it.

He says, “No, I will buy Hwang’s land. ” He said ‘Hwang’s land’ as casually as he might have said ‘Ching’s land’—Ching, who was his farmer neighbor. He would become more than equal to these people in the foolish, great, wasteful house. ” In this quote, Wang lung is already becoming ambitious to expand his family’s land and become more powerful than the Hwangs themselves. He nonchalantly proclaims that he will buy the Hwang’s land and soon become richer than them. Despite all of this, Wang lung is still just a simple country man.

His culture is based on self and family honor and he is as a result, very proud of himself, and has a lot of pride. While he is ambitious, and willing to do almost anything to help his family, he also wants to expand his family line and become wealthy. This want of wealth and status is something that Wang lung passes down to his sons. In his old age, he watches his sons make the same mistakes as the Hwangs, (spending too much, buying trivial thing) but lives out the rest of his life the opposite of how he came into the world: as a rich, self-made, family man.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in The Good Earth

Wang Lung (the Good Earth) Character Analysis

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The chapter opens on Wang Lung's marriage day. It is a moment of great change in the house, previously inhabited only by Wang Lung and his elderly father. Today, a woman will arrive and take over many of the chores that Wang Lung has been performing daily since his mother passed away six years ago.

In preparation for the big day, Wang Lung gives his father water with tea leaves in the morning, an action that the old man sees as wasteful since tea leaves are like gold for humble farmers like them. Wang Lung also takes a full-bodied bath, another luxury, since water is very valuable to them. Nevertheless, he justifies this waste by later throwing the water over the earth and their crops.

Wang Lung has invited family and friends tonight for his marriage dinner. He thus goes to town to buy meat and produce. He counts every silver piece and pence. He then decides to have his head freshly shaven for tonight.

The time comes for him to request his bride at the Great House of Hwang. He is terribly anxious, however, and decides to eat something before going forth. When he arrives at the gate of the Great House he is greeted by the gateman, a very unpleasant man that requires Wang Lung to give him a piece of silver before he is shown into the house.

Wang Lung is taken to see the Old Mistress, a very intimidating figure. The Mistress speaks of O-lan, his soon to be wife. She is described as plain but hard-working, presumably also a virgin, though in Great Houses the masters often had their way with the slaves. Regardless, O-lan's lack of beauty has prevented the masters from taking any interest in her. She is also described as slow. The Old Mistress states her desire to see their firstborn and then swiftly hands O-lan over to Wang Lung. In a moment she passes from one master to another, no questions asked.

Wang Lung notices with disappointment that his wife's feet are not bound and that her face is indeed as plain as was rumored. However, she has no pockmarks or a split lip, as he had requested, and he finds comfort in this reassurance. On their way home, O-lan walks behind Wang Lung, as tradition dictates. He buys her green peaches on the way. They then stop by the temple and burn incense for the gods.

When they arrive at home O-lan is soon put to work in the kitchen. She prepares a delicious meal, but does not want to serve the food because she does not wish that other men look upon her.

That night, Wang Lung and O-lan consummate their marriage.


In this first chapter we are introduced to the farmer Wang Lung, the protagonist of the book. Wang Lung is a simple man; however, he has a desire for some of the finer things in life, for example, a pretty wife. He is anxious about meeting his new wife, and is very conscious of his appearance. For this reason he bathes his full body, wears his best robe, and has his head freshly shaven for the occasion.

Wang Lung's father notices all of his son's preparations and admonishes him on his apparent waste. However, he is also secretly pleased at the event that is taking place, and he enjoys drinking his tea, as well as the thought of having guests for dinner.

Many of the themes that will be developed by the author throughout the text are presented in this chapter, beginning with the importance of the earth. Obviously, a farmer's life and livelihood depends upon cultivating his land, but the earth takes on a greater significance as well with regard to traditions. Wang Lung works his fields in long-established ways; farming is thus a sort of through-line for Wang Lung to his most distant ancestors. Buck even mentions a connection between farming one's land and worshipping household gods. The implication is that one's traditions and spiritual guides affect one's success as a farmer along with meteorological factors.

Wang Lung's journey to the town establishes the differences between the conservatism of country life and the changing fashions and methods of the city. This contrast becomes evident in his encounter with the Barber, a joker who pokes fun at Wang Lung's braid. All farmers once wore braids, and Wang Lung is unwilling to cut his off simply because a Barber teases him about it. Times are changing, but Wang Lung still apparently values tradition above all else.

Going to the House of Hwang is especially nerve-wracking for Wang Lung. He is awkwardly ignorant of the customs of the house, is intimidated by the pomp and finery on display there, and is especially embarrassed that he has carted his market-bought food to the great House. Once inside, however, he is fixated on his new wife. He has never seen her before. It should be noted at this point that Wang Lung always refers to O-lan as his woman. She is, above all, a possession for Wang Lung, someone to take over the chores of the household and to bear him children.

On their way home, Wang Lung buys O-lan green peaches, possessions she eagerly guards and which attest to the scarcity she is coming from. O-lan is submissive and obedient from the very moment she steps into Wang Lung's house. The green peaches might represent the newness of their relationship -- not yet ripe. At any rate, the peaches suggest sensuality, and prefigure the consumation of their marriage at the chapter's end.

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